Weight loss for athletes can be a tricky balancing act. The goal is to lose body fat, maintain lean muscle and avoid negatively impacting performance. The main goal for athletes who want to lose weight is to eat nutrient-rich foods while lowering their total calorie intake. When cutting back on how much you are eating, it’s important to continue to receive the daily nutrition you need and still feel satisfied.
Instead of focusing on a number on the bathroom scale, consider body composition instead. Typically, leaner athletes tend to perform better in terms of endurance, speed and agility. Excessive body weight translates to extra weight that an athlete must carry during the course of their workout. This being said, there is a fine balance between leanness and strength. Becoming too lean can be unhealthy and can poorly impact your performance.
Here are some rules for losing the fat, and keeping the lean.
Rule #1 – Don’t skip meals. If you need a snack, eat it.
Rule #2 – Rate your hunger on a scale of 1-5 (1 = not hungry, 5 = starving). Always eat when you rate your hunger at a 3.
Rule #3 – Eat until satisfied, not full or “stuffed.” Take the time to enjoy your food by removing distractions such as television, work, computer etc.
Rule #4 – Strive to have 4-5 food groups at meals, and 2-3 food groups at snack time. Note: Don’t forget to include some protein at meals and snacks to help with satiety.
Rule #5 – Consume healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, nut butters, olive oil, avocado and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
Rule #6 – Increase vegetable intake at meals and snacks. They are low in calories, and jam-packed with nutrition.
Rule #7 – Rely on lower-calorie beverages such as water, unsweetened teas, sparkling waters and fat-free milk.
Rule #8 – Limit alcohol intake
Rule #9 – Try to prepare most of your meals and snacks yourself. When eating out, choose “lighter fare” options.
Rule #10– Avoid food and beverage temptations. Plan around your food weaknesses. For example, I have no self control when it comes to candy. So I typically do not keep candy in the house as I know I will just sit there and eat the entire bag within a couple days.
Let’s hear from you. What rules do you live by that help keep your eating habits in check?